By Charles Hallman
She’s seen it all — the team’s first-ever victory in 1999, the endless roster changes, the hiring of two Black female head coaches, a rookie-of-the-year winner and sixth woman winner, and a league-record four all-stars two seasons ago. She also took part in the area’s first championship season since 1991.
Debbie Montgomery is no bandwagon Lynx fan . She has been with them through all the downs and the ups. It seems only fitting, then, that the Minnesota Lynx organization honor her, which they did during last Saturday’s 15th season opener at their downtown arena.
She and her husband are among the original group of season ticket holders. “I remember when they put the call out that they needed so many season ticket holders so we could have a team here,” recalls Montgomery, who dutifully answered that call with no buyers’ remorse afterwards.
“I’ve always been an avid sports fan and have been an athlete,” Montgomery says. “An opportunity to see a women’s professional team come here for our young girls to see was just phenomenal.
“I can’t say enough about [team owner] Glen Taylor, one of the few major [NBA] owners who have stuck with it,” continues Montgomery, who rarely has missed a home game in 15 seasons and counting.
Besides the team’s WNBA championship victory in their first-ever trip to the finals two summers ago and three times winning the lottery to draft number-one picks Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore (the team traded away the 2010 top pick for Lindsay Whalen), Montgomery notes that her fondest memory was the team’s first playoff win in 2003.
“Our first playoff game, we were sitting there at halftime and we’re down 20 points,” she remembers. “We’re thinking, ‘Oh man, this is going to be a long night.’ But we end up winning by two points.”
That come-from-behind win over visiting Los Angeles still ranks as one of the biggest deficit-erasing victories in WNBA post-season history. “It was a great experience to just see that…to see [the players] fight and come back,” says Montgomery.
Montgomery nonetheless has been openly critical over the years of the Lynx not fully recognizing its Black clientele, and has been quoted to that effect in the MSR. Yet last Saturday, she was the first in an anticipated series to be recognized this summer as longtime season ticket holders.
“I thank the Timberwolves organization [who owns the Lynx] for being aware and conscious of that,” she points out, “and to understand that it is important to recognize everybody who contributes… It was two season tickets that we contributed and our energy at every [home] game for the past 15 seasons.
“It was a surprise when I got the phone call from the organization saying that this year they were going to honor some of the original season ticket holders, and we’d like you to be the first to be honored.” She confirms that it was in fact an honor to see herself featured on the arena’s overhead video scoreboard last weekend.
“It’s just nice to have them honor, not me so much, but to honor our community and recognizing that,” states Montgomery.
Finally, she couldn’t allow the opportunity to pass by without making her own 2013 season prediction: “Look who we got — Seimone, Lindsay, and the girls we have now. We’re hanging in there with some defense. We always have been able to move the ball [offensively]. We’ll be back in the playoffs again and hopefully [win] another championship.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.